Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

BACKGROUND: GPs are encouraged to make brief interventions to support weight loss, but they report concern about these conversations, stating that they need more details on what to say. Knowing how engage in these conversations could encourage GPs to deliver brief interventions for weight loss more frequently. OBJECTIVE: To examine which specific words and phrases were successful in achieving conversational alignment and minimizing misunderstanding, contributing to effective interventions. METHODS: A conversation analysis of English family practice patients participating in a trial of opportunistic weight-management interventions, which incorporated the offer of referral to community weight-management services (CWMS). Qualitative conversation analysis was applied to 246 consultation recordings to identify communication patterns, which contributed to clear, efficient interventions. RESULTS: Analysis showed variation in how GPs delivered interventions. Some ways of talking created misunderstandings or misalignment, while others avoided these. There were five components of clear and efficient opportunistic weight-management referrals. These were (i) exemplifying CWMS with a recognizable brand name (ii) saying weight-management 'programme' or 'service', rather than 'group' or 'club' (iii) stating that the referral is 'free' early on (iv) saying the number CWMS visits available on referral (v) stating that the CWMS programme available was 'local'. CONCLUSIONS: When making a brief opportunistic intervention to support weight loss, clinicians can follow these five steps to create a smooth and efficient intervention. Knowing this may allay clinicians' fears about these consultations being awkward and improve adherence to guidelines.

Original publication




Journal article


Fam Pract

Publication Date



Family practice, health behaviour, health communication, obesity, primary health care, referral and consultation